04/17/15 8:57pm

soaresAs a follow­up to his best­selling novel, ​The Oasis of Filth, Alexandria­-based author Keith Soares, the owner of Bean Creative in Del Ray, has released his much­ anticipated second novel on April 17 via Amazon.com. The book will be available in ebook and paperback formats.

The new novel, For I Could Lift My Finger and Black Out the Sun, is a young adult science fiction story about a boy named John Black. After being hit by a car, John gains unusual abilities that at first seem fun. But soon John finds out that power can be very serious business for some people. Author Keith Soares notes, “Growing up can be pretty challenging for anyone, but being a nerdy kid makes it harder for John Black. You’d think having superpowers might make all your troubles all disappear, but for John, it multiplies them. They’re just one more thing to complicate his coming of age story. Can he tell his parents? His friends? How did it happen to him in the first place? And the unwanted attention his powers generate ends up putting his family in real danger. Seemingly random encounters suddenly hold a lot of weight and meaning.”

Soares grew up in Crofton, Maryland, a town that serves as the basis for the fictional hometown of the main character, John Black. “I borrowed a lot of the settings from places I knew growing up,” Soares said. “Early in the story, the kids run from quiet suburban streets and into a larger highway, the place where they get hit by a car and everything begins. That road is basically Davidsonville Road in Crofton. There are other places, too. John’s family home is loosely based on my first house in Del Ray, Alexandria. The beach he visits is a lot like Ocean City, Maryland. And the big city is very much Washington, DC.”

About Soares’s first novel, ​The Oasis of Filth – The Complete Series, Self Publishing Review said, “​I don’t recommend reading this book; I recommend reading every book this author publishes, as I have no doubt he will continue raising the bar.” Readers of advanced copies of ​For I Could LiftMy Finger and Black Out the Sun say it’s even better than ​The Oasis of Filth.

04/17/15 2:19pm

Alexandria, Virginia's historic Mount Ida residence in the North Ridge neighborhood
The 200-year-old dwelling, located in the North Ridge neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia was home to descendants of the founder of Alexandria, John Alexander, and an order of nuns. The listing for this home is at this link.

Via Where We Live

In 1669, John Alexander bought 6,000 acres along the Potomac River for 6,000 pounds of tobacco and the cask that held it. Part of that land later became Alexandria. Although neither John nor his sons or grand­children lived on the land, Charles Alexander, a sixth-generation descendant of John, built a home on the uplands overlooking the Potomac River valley.

Named after the highest point on the Greek island of Crete, Mount Ida was constructed sometime between 1800 and 1808.

It began as a two-story brick residence before being expanded and embellished over the years. The house is the only still-standing Alexander family home from that period.

In 1942, an order of Roman Catholic nuns bought Mount Ida. The Sisters of the Holy Cross renovated and enlarged the home, turning it into a convent. They used the front parlor as their chapel.

Mount Ida became a ­single-family home again in 1992, when Paul and Diane Mahefky bought it. Their renovations to the home were featured in Betsy Wells Edwards’s book, “Virginia Country: Inside the Private Historic Homes of the Old Dominion.”

With almost every owner putting an imprint on it, Mount Ida has undergone massive structural changes. Rooms were added across the front of the house. The facade was made grander by adding Ionic columns and a stately stone-and-brick staircase that leads to sweeping porches. A family room was joined to the home in 1985.

Read more at this link.

04/17/15 11:34am

Owly Images
As readers may remember, three years ago on this day, April 17, the Space Shuttle Discovery was making its way to its new home at the Udvar-Hazy annex of the National Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport, and was in view of many in the Northern Virginia and Washington DC area as it flew overhead on the back of the Boeing-747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA).

Discovery and the SCA flew at a low altitude of approximately 1,500 feet around various parts of Washington, DC and near a variety of landmarks in the metropolitan area, including the National Mall, Reagan National Airport, National Harbor and the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center.

You can see lots of great photos of the event via #spottheshuttle. See this gallery from USA Today. Here’s a great one from Facebook of the Space Shuttle Discovery turning toward the National Mall and some great ones in the Space Shuttle Discovery Flickr Group. Here are some of my favorites from Twitter we posted about.

04/17/15 10:52am

For Rule 5 Friday, we scanned the local Alexandria, Virginia area blogs to find the most interesting stories in them you might have missed. Please show our fellow local bloggers some link love! For a list of our favorite local blogs, click this link.